Robert Brown – Comment on South Lanarkshire Budget
Rutherglen South Liberal Democrat Councillor Robert Brown said that South Lanarkshire had done a decent job on the Council’s budget – but criticised the cuts imposed by the Scottish Government in Edinburgh as leading to “salami slicing of services”
Robert Brown told the Council:
“We all know that public finances are tight but it is not good enough when the Scottish government gets a real terms increase in its funding together with control of taxes – yet passes on cuts to the Councils. A big fuss was made about the £7.78 million extra that came to the Council at the last minute following the budget deal in Edinburgh – but that only reduced almost £35 million of cuts we faced.
The SNP government have imposed cuts on Councils for some years now – that leads to the loss of a teacher here, a support worker there and generally to salami slicing of staff which makes it more and more difficult for the schools to provide the top class education we want.
To make things worse, schools have been struggling to recruit teachers and other staff. So the announcement of an increase in support for teacher training is welcome – except that it only partially makes up for the cuts in teacher training the SNP imposed earlier. It should be no surprise that Scotland has 4,000 teachers less since the SNP came to power, nor that we are slipping down the international league tables on education.
That is why the Liberal Democrats wanted £500 million of transformational investment in education through a penny on income tax.”
Liberal Democrats back Scotland’s majority
The Scottish and European referenda caused great hurt in our country. Most people regard themselves as Scottish, British and European in varying degrees – and with no contradiction between them. The referendum process damaged this sensible and healthy view of our identity, and it is now time to heal and bring people together.
Last weekend, I went to Perth with a delegation from Rutherglen for the Scottish Liberal Democrat Spring conference. I found the Party in good heart, buoyed up by over 30 council by elections gains across the UK and a brilliant Parliamentary by election win in London.
There was a strong sense that Liberal Democrats now speak for the majority in Scotland. A majority of people voted for Scotland to remain in the United Kingdom – and we stand firm with them.
And a majority of people in Scotland voted for the United Kingdom to remain in the European Union – and we stand with them too.
No one else stands with the majority in Scotland – for the United Kingdom and for the European Union.
And yet our country’s future is threatened by two parties – the Tories and the SNP – who do not speak for the majority. The Conservatives of Theresa May who want to drag us into a hard Brexit that people in Scotland did not support. And the SNP of Nicola Sturgeon who want to break up our United Kingdom supported so strongly in the 2014 referendum.
Nicola Sturgeon is edging closer to a second divisive independence referendum which two thirds of voters tell opinion pollsters they do not want. She is milking a grievance artificially injected into the debate by the Brexit referendum last June. Why? – because the Tories were reckless with the future of the UK and called an unnecessary referendum few people wanted to sort out toxic splits in their Party.
The SNP and the Tories do not speak for Scotland.
It is time to heal the divisions of the two referenda with a new vision for our country – a refreshed Union, a federal Union which balances the rights, needs and responsibilities of the United Kingdom with the rights, responsibilities and needs of Scotland. It is the sort of arrangement which works in many countries – from Australia and Canada to Germany and Switzerland. It is a set up where people can choose to be both Scottish and British without contradiction.
Time for action on older council houses
A call for quicker action to upgrade the older houses in Rutherglen and Cambuslang was made by Rutherglen South Liberal Democrat Councillor Robert Brown at South Lanarkshire’s Budget meeting on Thursday. Councillor Brown was speaking as the Council approved a major expansion of its new house building programme.
After the meeting, Robert Brown said:
“The Council has done good work with the regeneration packages in areas like Fernhill and Cathkin, with recladding and energy efficiency, and with internal improvements. But this has left behind a lot of older houses in Blairbeth, Spittal, Fernhill, Cathkin and Springhall in my ward as well as similar houses in Cambuslang and other areas. Some of these houses need renewal of things like roofs, windows and roughcasting. The old roughcasting is routinely grey and tired beside the new housing. Many people understood that this would be dealt with as part of the regeneration of these areas.
Springhall has a major challenge with the outside environment. We have got the Council to do comprehensive improvements to close mouths, bin shelter areas, back courts etc in some parts – but, at the present rate, it will take much more than a decade to complete. People pay rent and are entitled to a decent environment around their homes.
There is a strong demand for additional new housing, but it is important to give a fair deal too to existing householders. My call was for this to have a higher priority within the Council’s spending plans and for a faster rate of action on these older houses.”
Liberal Democrats announce local council candidates
Rutherglen Constituency Liberal Democrats have announced their candidates for the May Council elections for the local area.
The candidates are –
- Rutherglen South: Councillor Robert Brown
- Rutherglen Central & North: Liz Keenan
- Cambuslang West: Norman Rae
- Cambuslang East: Ellen Bryson
- Blantyre: Stephen Reid
Sitting Councillor Robert Brown said:
“Liberal Democrats in South Lanarkshire will be contesting all 20 seats in the Council area for the first time ever. We go in to the elections with high hopes of gaining seats in South Lanarkshire, not least in Cambuslang and Rutherglen – following almost 30 gains across the country in recent months and a superb Parliamentary by election victory over the Tories before Christmas in Richmond Park.
We will be fighting the election on local issues – better housing, traffic safety, environmental issues and above all education. We want more community power for Rutherglen and Cambuslang. We want to open up the Council and make it more accessible and accountable to local people.
However we are also well aware that many people also look at the key national issues. Only the Liberal Democrats are campaigning to keep Scotland in the United Kingdom, and the UK in Europe. The SNP of course want to separate from the rest of the UK and the Tories have all lined up smartly behind Brexit – while Labour seems to have lost its direction and its purpose.
The Liberal Democrats offer an outward-looking, international and liberal vision, action on local issues, priority for education, community safety and housing, and opportunity for young people. This approach is badly needed in these uncertain days.”
- Robert Brown has been Liberal Democrat Councillor for Rutherglen South since 2012. He graduated with first class honours from Aberdeen University, served as Procurator Fiscal Depute in Dumbarton and was senior civil partner with a major Rutherglen and Glasgow legal firm. He was a Councillor for Rutherglen South and Fernhill wards for 15 years, then MSP for Glasgow for 12 years. He served as Deputy Minister for Education and Young People in the Labour/Liberal Democrat Coalition in the Scottish Parliament.
- Liz Keenan has lived much of her life in Rutherglen. She has had a varied career in sales, as a home help and has now returned to College to study social care. She has two grown up sons and a grandson. She has been Secretary of Overtoun Park Bowling Club, a mental health volunteer and involved in Croftfoot Action Group.
- Norman Rae is a native of Cambuslang, went to West Coats Primary School and Cathkin High School. This led on to a PhD in Geography at Glasgow University and a Master’s degree in librarianship at Strathclyde. He currently undertakes freelance writing/information work. He is a well-known member of Rutherglen Repertory Company, a former volunteer with Cambuslang Credit Union and was election agent for Rutherglen constituency at the recent Scottish elections. Norman is Secretary of Rutherglen Constituency Liberal Democrats.
- Ellen Bryson attended the then Rutherglen Academy and Cathkin High School. She graduated from Strathclyde University with a joint honours degree in Economic History and Geography and qualified as a teacher at Hamilton College of Education. She has taught at various schools, including a school in Malawi and later at Stonelaw High School (teaching geography, and travel and tourism) until 2014. She was chair of Halfmerke Primary School Board in East Kilbride. She is now a volunteer guide at the David Livingstone Centre and the National Museum of Country Life.
- Stephen Reid was brought up in Blantyre where he lives, and attended the former Blantyre High School before obtaining an HND in Business Administration from Anniesland College. He has worked in the civil service and as a customer sales representative. He contested the Blantyre council by election in 2015 when he increased the Liberal Democrat vote and has been active on community issues since then.